Master Failures in the Precision Time Protocol

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Executive Summary

If all clocks within a distributed system share the same notion of time, the application domain can gain several advantages. Among those is the possibility to implement real-time behavior, accurate time stamping, and event detection. However, with the wide spread application of clock synchronization another topic has to be taken into consideration: the fault tolerance. The well known clock synchronization protocol IEEE1588 (Precision Time Protocol, PTP), is based on a master/slave principle, which has one severe disadvantage. This disadvantage is the fact that the failure of a master automatically requires the re-election of a new master. The start of a master election based on timeout and thus takes a certain time span during which the clocks are not synchronized and thus running freely.

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